Christopher Cipoletti has
been fired as executive director of the American Numismatic
Association Tuesday October
16, 2007 9:16 PM
Christopher Cipoletti has been fired as executive
director and legal counsel of the Colorado Springs-based American
Numismatic Association, the nations largest coin collector
organization, effective 5 p.m. today.
The associations nine-member board of governors voted
to terminate with cause Cipolettis employment
in a closed executive session Monday evening and announced
the decision today during a public meeting broadcast to the
organizations 35 staff members.
Because its an employment issue, we dont
give specifics, but we felt theres adequate cause to
fire him, Barry Stuppler, president of the board, said
in an interview after the meeting.
Cipoletti, 46, did not return a call to his Colorado Springs
home today. Cipoletti, a lawyer who specializes in employment
law, had been executive director since January 2003 and also
served as the organizations legal counsel.
The move by the board, voted in by the organizations
32,000 members a few months ago, caps years of turmoil for
the association, which was federally chartered by Congress
in 1891 as an educational, historical and scientific nonprofit
organization. Questions about finances, claims of secrecy,
staff turnover and a pending lawsuit have plagued the organization.
It may be fall outside, but to us its bright
spring this board and staff are paving the way for
the association to move up and beyond where its been,
said Ed Rochette after today's announcements. Rochette served
as association executive director before Cipolettis
term and is now a board member. The local money museum is
named after him.
An arbitrator will help settle Cipolettis employment
contract with the association, which runs through Dec. 31,
2008, with an option for a five-year renewal, Stuppler said.
The organizations projected $800,000 operating budget
deficit for this fiscal year could be affected by the outcome
of the arbitration, he said.
Cipoletti gave a presentation of an undisclosed nature to
the board for more than an hour during a working dinner Monday,
After his presentation, we decided to terminate him,
A committee will set directives for hiring a new executive
director, Stuppler said. Former association president Kenneth
Hallenbeck of Colorado Springs is acting executive director.
Members have every reason to be optimistic about the
future, given the current board and leadership of the ANA,
said Sam Deep, a 27-year member of the organization from Pittsburgh,
who attended Tuesdays meeting here.
Cipolettis removal also prompted the board to nullify
a $1 million donation pledge the largest financial
pledge in the organizations history from a member
that Stuppler said was contingent on the organization maintaining
the same management and granting naming rights to two proposed
Cipoletti has been on administrative leave since Aug. 12,
the first official action of the new board. Stuppler said
Cipoletti was placed on leave to give him time to concentrate
on a civil lawsuit he and the American Numismatic Association
filed more than two years ago against three former employees
and an independent computer contractor and his company. The
lawsuit alleges civil theft of proprietary business information,
harassment against Cipoletti, civil conspiracy, breach of
fiduciary duty and other complaints.
Cipolettis change of employment status in August prompted
the associations lawyer handling the case to resign,
and a new attorney, Lance Sears of Sears & Swanson PC
in Colorado Springs, has been retained to represent the co-plaintiffs,
The ANA has hired an attorney to look into the ANAs
position in the lawsuit, he said.
This month, a jury trial in 4th Judicial District Court was
rescheduled for the fourth time to Aug. 18, 2008. The four
defendants have filed a motion for partial summary judgment,
which has not been ruled on.
The association has paid about $400,000 in legal fees on
the case, Stuppler said.
Board members also in August raised questions about the organizations
operating budget deficit, which for the past five years under
Cipolettis leadership has ranged annually from $266,000
to more than $1 million.
The board hired an independent certified public accounting
firm to determine whether an audit is needed. Stuppler said
Tuesday that the board had not received the report.
Based on the financial picture, the board Monday agreed to
withdraw $925,000 from its endowment fund of approximately
$21 million to pay off a bank line of credit.
We felt it was not acceptable to have that credit line,
Board members also voted Monday to scrap plans to build a
money museum inside the historic San Francisco Mint, and decided
in a board conference call Oct. 2 to cancel plans to build
a $20 million museum in Washington, D.C., saying it could
not handle such a financial commitment. Stuppler said plans
to expand the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado
Springs are on hold.
Stuppler pledged an open, transparent atmosphere for the
board, staff and members.
We have a new management change, a new structure and
a new culture, he said. In the past, there hasnt
been an open line of communication, and were trying
to remedy that.
Cipolettis annual salary, benefits and expense account
totaled more than $250,000.
Attorney Ron Sirna of Michigan replaces Cipoletti as general
Association Tuesday October 16, 2007 9:16 PM